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Conducting strategy with difficult people

When we introduce ideas around agile strategy, some folks get stuck on how the jerks will react.  For example last week someone asked, “What happens when you encounter loud, obstinate people? Don’t they simply disrupt the process?” The answer is, of course, “Yes, if you let them.” One of the beauties of our democracy is […]

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Moving from strategic plans to strategic action plans

In the last month, I’ve encountered two situations in which the conventional approach to strategy has broken down. Strategic planning, as a management discipline, emerged from operations planning during World War II. The process is top-down, linear, logical, heavily analytic. The problem, of course, is that our organizations and our economies don’t function this way. […]

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Replacing strategic planning with agile strategy

In a world that is becoming more complex, turbulent and less stable, our traditional approach to strategy – – strategic planning – – becomes increasingly less reliable and effective. The alternative is agile strategy, a lean process of creating and capturing value through learning by doing. In complex environments, strategic planning doesn’t work very well […]

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Some thoughts on strategy in a world of open networks

Over the years, I have collected a number of thoughts on developing strategies in a globally connected world. In a globally connected world, isolation is a choice. If you want to face the turbulence ahead by yourself, go ahead. But that’s probably not your best option. You always have the opportunity to connect. The choice […]

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Overcoming the tyranny of stakeholders

An academic leader recently connected with me, frustrated. After two years of trying to implement large-scale system change within her university, her team had little to show for it. A relatively small initiative involving 30 students was underway, but little else. When I asked her to describe this process, her strategy, she eloquently explained how […]

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Moving past gridlock: A path forward to reshaping our democracy

Our politics is a mess. Thirty years of increasingly partisan wrangling has left Congress incapable of taking on any complex policy task. Sadly, there is little prospect of escaping these ideological wars anytime soon. Partisan differences are growing, not shrinking. Over the past three decades, ideologues have seized control of our democracy and run it […]

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Confronting complexity: Can we distinguish the simplistic from the simple?

A column by NYT’s Nicholas Kristof touched a nerve in the academy, when he suggested that academics had “walled themselves off”. Reaction from the academy is neatly summarized in this Harvard Press blog post. In my own view, both sides have it right. Our challenge is to distinguish the simplistic from the simple. The simplistic […]

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The growing popularity of Strategic Doing: Some questions answered

As the popularity of Strategic Doing grows, we are encountering some questions that deserve answers. Where has Strategic Doing worked? On places where Strategic Doing has worked, we have a number of good examples: We used Strategic Doing in a 14 country region in North Central Indiana to develop a wide range of workforce development innovations, many […]

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7 keys to guiding an open network

Since the railroads introduced them in the 1870’s, hierarchical organizations have dominated our economic landscape. They have shaped our thinking and behavior. Now that is changing. Open, loosely joined networks are emerging as significantly more important to creating value, accelerating innovation, and promoting sustainability. But how do we design and guide open networks? Many of […]

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Strategic Doing in Australia: The Fraser Coast Fanatics take flight

Our Strategic Doing work in Australia continues to grow. The Fraser Coast Fanatics have formed and are storming ahead with a series of civic forums. One of the first steps in Strategic Doing is to practice the art of convening around topics that help people recognize and appreciate their assets. (Strategic Doing is an asset […]

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Designing platforms to design ecosystems

Ecosystems form on top of platforms. Ecosystem design starts with platform design.  By designing the platform and guiding interactions on […]

Start-up and innovation ecosystems: Testbeds

It’s no surprise that academic research often lags behind market developments (Brown & Mawson, 2017). What if, to help us […]

The shiny attraction of tax cuts

Years ago, as I was working on consulting teams, we helped companies like GE globalize their production. That meant moving […]

Our out-dated thinking about communities

Our traditional approach to community development no longer works. Consider these facts: The opioid crisis is overwhelming our capacity to […]

To go quickly, go slowly (at first)

I (re)learned a valuable lesson this week. We design and guide new networks to move quickly, to be come more […]

Rebuilding our civic economy

Our future prosperity depends on developing new, collective habits of complex thinking together. At the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab, we […]